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Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease characterized by raised red patches of skin covered with white scales. The word psoriasis comes from the Greek words psora meaning “itch” and iasis meaning “action on,” which implies itch action.
Psoriasis is not contagious or infectious. It can be inherited, but even if both parents have psoriasis, there is no guarantee that their children will develop the condition. Psoriasis does run in families, though it’s often difficult to predict who may get it because many people who have a genetic susceptibility never develop the disease.
The triggers for psoriasis are still unknown, but some factors like stress, injury to the skin, or an infection make symptoms worse; smoking seems to cause psoriasis to flare.
Psoriasis is not dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and upsetting. It has a significant impact on your social life and your mental health. Psoriasis can cause irritation to the skin; itching; pain when standing or sitting; soreness; burning in humid weather; redness of the skin, inflammation (swelling), and oozing.
This is the way how psoriasis is diagnosed:
- Physical Examination:
Taking a complete medical history and a thorough physical examination is the first step in diagnosing psoriasis. During the exam, the doctor will look for signs of inflammation or infection. The doctor may also check to see if any other skin conditions could be causing psoriasis-like symptoms.
- Blood Tests:
The doctor will also likely recommend blood tests to look for hidden infections that can trigger an episode of psoriasis or make existing psoriasis worse.
- Wood’s Light Examination:
In this test, your doctor shines a special blue light on your skin to help detect mild cases of ultraviolet B (UVB) light damage from sun exposure, which might play a role in worsening skin soreness.
If the diagnosis is in question, the doctor may take a small piece of skin from your upper back to view under a microscope for signs of psoriasis. Several tests are used to diagnose psoriasis or distinguish it from other conditions with similar symptoms, including:
- Visual inspection with magnification:
Your doctor will look at the affected area under a microscope, magnification instrument, or special ultraviolet light. The areas of your skin that appear red and scaly are called plaques. The shape, size, and arrangement of these plaques help identify the type of psoriasis you have.
There are other ways by which skin doctors diagnose psoriasis:
- Plaque psoriasis is usually characterized by red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales. The patches frequently occur on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back but can appear almost anywhere on the body.
- Guttate psoriasis tends to arise in early childhood or adolescence and is marked by tiny drops or droplets of inflamed skin that weep clear fluid. These sores typically erupt over large areas of the upper half of the body and often affect collarbones, shoulders, and the chest.
- Inverse psoriasis appears as smooth, inflamed patches with a sharp border between normal healthy skin and inflamed tissue. This type most often affects armpits, groin folds, and between buttocks cheeks.
- Pustular psoriasis appears as small pustules that are filled with pus. Pustules appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet in about 50% of patients, but they can occur almost anywhere on the body.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis is characterized by redness involving most or all of the skin surface. Sloughing off (shedding) of large sheets of skin may occur, leading to severe dehydration, weight loss, and even death if left untreated.
- Psoriatic arthritis causes joints to swell, become tender and lose function—typically beginning between ages 30-50. It’s estimated that up to one-third of people who have psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.
The diagnosis of psoriasis is often straightforward. However, some specific problems can be confused with this condition:
- Lichen planus is a common cause of small red bumps on the skin. These bumps result from inflammation and appear very similar to psoriasis patches, except that they are thicker than psoriatic plaques and tend to form well-defined borders around the edges. Although these two conditions have many features in common, lasers can treat lichen planus but may not work for psoriasis.
- Cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL)or mycosis fungoides is unusual cancer that appears as patches or plaque-like sores where skin cancer is a significant concern. The skin cancer associated with CTCL is not the same as that caused by ultraviolet radiation and does not appear in sun-exposed regions of the body.
- Pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP)causes red, scaly patches on the upper arms, thighs, and sometimes around the neck. These sores can itch or feel sore but do not typically cause pain or fever. PRP responds to treatment more slowly than psoriasis and can be challenging to treat effectively with either medical or laser therapy alone.
- Irritant contact dermatitis appears as tiny, red bumps surrounded by redness and scaling similar to psoriasis plaques; these lesions are typically very itchy and sometimes painful. Unlike psoriasis, irritant contact dermatitis usually clears up in a few days after the irritating substance is removed from the skin, such as when dry chemicals are no longer used to clean accident scenes.
- Vitiligo causes patches of discolored skin that can be confused with psoriasis, but unlike psoriasis plaques, these areas lack thick scales and do not appear over joints or tend to recur in the same spots. In addition, vitiligo patches generally aren’t itchy or painful.
Why the correct diagnosis of psoriasis is essential:
- The severity of psoriasis varies greatly. Plaques can go from small areas to large, thick patches that cover much of the body surface.
- Psoriasis is a chronic disease in which the signs and symptoms usually come and go in cycles, with periods in between when there are no visible signs or symptoms.
- Psoriasis affects people differently depending on their age, environment, skin coloration (pigmentation), family history, and other health conditions they may have at the same time. Some people with mild to moderate psoriasis find that topical medications are helpful; others require vital systemic medicines taken by mouth or injected near the joints for added benefit.
- Different people respond better to other treatments. If you are treating or considering psoriasis treatment, be sure that your doctor is experienced in the treatment of psoriasis and knows your complete health history, including any allergies, other medical conditions (such as diabetes), medications you may be taking.
- Tell your doctor about any alternative therapies you are using. By working closely with your dermatologist, you can find the proper medication or combination of drugs to substantially reduce or control your psoriasis symptoms and help prevent future outbreaks.
How proper diagnosis leads to right treatment:
- If you see your doctor early and describe the problem entirely, treatment is more likely to succeed. It’s also easier for your dermatologist to make a correct diagnosis and start treating psoriasis as soon as it appears.
- You can track ongoing treatment or changes in medicine by taking notes, keeping a journal of what works best, or making sketches of affected areas that highlight any changes from one visit to the next.
- These tools may help your doctor determine if your medications are working effectively, whether there are new lesions on your skin, and how much of the plaques have been reduced. In addition, they can help track any side effects you experience from medications or treatments.
- If you are diagnosed with psoriasis, your dermatologist may first prescribe ointments or creams to help control the skin’s redness and scaling. To treat more severe cases of psoriasis, your doctor may also prescribe medications (such as steroid pills taken by mouth) to reduce inflammation and suppress your immune system’s overactive response. In addition, ultraviolet light therapy can be used for some types of psoriasis. In this treatment, the affected areas are exposed to controlled natural or artificial sunlight under medical supervision.
- For many people with milder forms of psoriasis, self-care treatments such as topical medicines, regular use of nonflammable bath oil or cream, and moisturizing creams or lotions may reduce the severity of psoriasis.
When to visit a doctor for diagnosis of psoriasis:
- A sudden eruption of round spots that are scaly and red may be psoriasis.
- Areas of thickened, raised skin that look like they have been scratched or scraped are likely psoriasis.
- Red patches covered with silvery scales are also possible signs of psoriasis.
- Itchy spots with clear fluid oozing from them may be psoriasis.
- Red patches with swollen, shiny skin and pus-filled blisters also mimic atopic dermatitis. They can also indicate a staph infection if the area is warm to the touch and tender to the fingertips.
- Skin lesions that resemble shingles but do not follow a nerve path could be seborrheic dermatitis or tinea versicolor.
- Patches that look like ringworm may indicate pityriasis rosea.
- Rashes similar to those of poison ivy can signify contact dermatitis, especially if they itch and burn and appear red and bumpy.
- Areas of raw, weeping, crusty sores may be impetigo.
- A glimpse of a shiny, scaly patch on an older person’s skin could signal psoriasis or another chronic skin condition called lichen planus.
What to do once when you are diagnosed with psoriasis:
- Keep a diary of treatments and their results. Be sure to include how you feel physically, including any changes in your energy level or sleep habits. And make a note of emotional or mental stressors in your life, such as work pressures.
- If you have psoriasis on visible areas of your body, wear dark clothes when out in public so that people can’t see your skin condition.
- Apply sunblock to anywhere that has been treated for psoriasis. Also, slather sunscreen onto unaffected areas if you’re going outside during sunny weather. UVA radiation from the sun may cause an outbreak even on normal skin, so protect yourself from all angles. You can also ask your dermatologist for a list of sunscreens that are safe to use if you have psoriasis.
- Wear long sleeves or pants as much as possible, even on hot summer days. Stay in the shade outdoors and avoid public places with harsh lighting that makes psoriatic skin stand out more.
- Use moisturizing creams and lotions frequently throughout the day; they provide temporary relief from dry skin.
- Practice good hygiene, cleanse your body thoroughly after strenuous activity, which can aggravate your condition. It’s also a good idea to shower immediately after swimming because psoriasis lesions may be more vulnerable to damage from chlorine or saltwater.
- Wear gloves when gardening; the skin on the hands may be less tolerant of exposure to chemicals. If you need to use a lawnmower, protect your skin from flying clippings by wearing long sleeves and pants instead of shorts.
- Avoid taking scalding baths or showers that can dry out your skin. Consider using a moisturizing bath additive instead of regular soap. Also, consider switching from a traditional luffa sponge to an exfoliating cloth or mitt, which won’t irritate if it contacts psoriatic lesions.
- When your psoriasis is flaring, soak your affected areas in lukewarm (not hot) water before applying topical treatments.
- Wash sheets and another laundry on the hottest cycle possible; psoriasis medications can cause stains if they contact the fabric.
- Avoid using soap or an alcohol-based product on inflamed skin if you must shave because it can sting. Instead, use moisturizing shaving cream to prevent irritation. For electric razors, consider switching to disposable razor heads that are easy to replace.
- Avoid vigorous scrubbing of psoriatic lesions when washing your face. Gently cleanse the area with a mild cleanser or baby shampoo without dyes or perfumes to worsen skin irritation.
- Choose natural treatment like homeopathic treatment. Homeopathic treatment is an alternative treatment that is free from side effects and can treat psoriasis permanently. Homeopathic remedies are chosen based on an individual’s specific symptoms and physical, mental, and emotional makeup. Visit a registered homeopathy doctor who can understand your problem and recommend a suitable cure. Homeopathic remedies are free from side effects and can treat psoriasis permanently.
Homeopathic medicine also controls flare-ups, and there is no problem in the future. So, go to the homeopathy doctor and take care of your psoriasis permanently. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy and get the treatment within your budget.